To restrain the Egyptian attack on the first day of the Yom Kippur War, the IDF (Zahal) engaged in intense tank battles. Danny Teichler, a member of a tank crew of the 14th Brigade, was called up to fight. Today, in the presence of family and friends, Danny’s father recited the Kaddish prayer in his memory. We speak to his family members and friends and hear their story.
It has been 40 years since the Teichler family lost their son, Danny. He fell during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, during a battle with the Egyptian Army near the Suez Canal. But time hasn’t affected the grief his friends and family feel. “Most of us became parents, even grandparents, but in our memories Danny is still 20 years old,” explains Arieh Zelikovitch, a former paratrooper and friend of Danny’s since their kindergarten days. Every year they gather at Mount Herzl next to Danny’s grave to say a prayer and then sit together in the apartment of the Teichler family, reminiscing about the past.
An exceptional friend
“You could say we were trouble makers,” Arieh recalls, laughing. “We wouldn’t listen to anyone. Even during the Six Day War in 1967, when it was absolutely forbidden to leave the school grounds, we did anyway.” Nevertheless, Danny was a good student and loved by everyone. He joined the youth movement Bnei Akiva, and his friends often met in his home. “When his parents weren’t home, we celebrated like crazy. He paid attention to everyone and made all of us feel at home,” says one of his friends. Danny was also very close to his family. He had three sisters and became an uncle at the age of 17. “One day, he found a toy for Ronit, my daughter, and he was so excited to give it to her,” says Nava, his older sister.
In February 1972, Danny was recruited into the army. He wanted to become a medic, and had a lot of experience in the field, having volunteered for a number of years with Magen David Adom. Instead he was assigned to the Armored Corps. “At that time, everybody wanted to be in a combat unit, but you didn’t really have a choice,” explains Arieh. “A couple of months into my service, I entered a tank for the first time and I couldn’t imagine Danny sitting for so long in such a tiny place.” Danny didn’t change during his service, but while he wasn’t known for his discipline, he gained the friendship of his peers and his officers. He finished the tank commander course with excellent grades, and then served in the Southern Command as part of the 14th Brigade.
On Friday, 5th October 1973, Danny, stationed in the Hatserim military base near Beersheva, was getting ready to leave for home. “I need to get home before the start of the fast,” Danny said to one of his friends. But his company commander told the soldiers that they might have to go head down to the Sinai. The alert level was higher than usual, and the soldiers were required to remain on base.
War in the Sinai
On October 6, Danny was meticulously preparing his tank when suddenly orders to move out were given. The soldiers heard on the radio that an aerial strike was coming. The strike hit the Refidim and Tessa bases on the Sinai border. Danny’s tank broke down, their Caterpillar track detached from the tank, and they were forced to fix it under heavy fire. Danny and his fellow soldiers fought through the night before reaching Tessa. Later he told a good friend of his: “The strike yesterday was terrible. Many friends are gone. If I return there, I am not coming back”.
On Sunday night, October 7, the night was calm and there was no shooting around Danny’s tank position (on the Telisman axis between Tesla and Islamiya). He and another member of the tank crew chatted while on guard. “I haven’t been home since Rosh Hashanah. I wish I knew what my mom is thinking now, and I wish I knew how she feels. I didn’t get a chance to call her,” Danny said. The next morning, his tank was hit by an antitank missile. He did not survive the explosion.
Arieh Zelikovitch, Danny’s childhood friend
“I remember the day I heard Danny was gone… I lost my dearest friend at that moment,” says Arieh. “40 years later, I am still in shock. It’s still hard to talk about it. It was the best friendship that could exist. I’ve never told anyone this, but sometimes I go by myself to his grave, to talk to him, and to ask him for advice.” Uri Ehrenfeld, another good friend of Danny’s, feels the same way. “With time, my understanding of the loss has taken completely new dimensions. Without soldiers like Danny who stopped the Egyptians at the expense of their lives, we would not exist anymore.”
Danny’s sister Judy was 13 years old at the time. “In just one day, our lives changed forever. We had to get used to a new and sad reality. When I try to imagine him, I try to imagine him as he would be today. I look at his friends, good and sensitive people, and understand that Danny would have been one of them. It makes me proud of Danny and of them,” Judy says.
Danny’s sister Judy
Many of the family members in the room never knew Danny, and yet they have learned from his legacy. “We bring his memory to life through stories and that inevitably makes you more mature. With all the pain of the loss, there is also pride in being a member of my family. I will continue to visit Danny’s grave every year,” says Dana, Danny’s niece.
This tragic loss is unfortunately not the only tragedy that has hit the Teichler family. Nava, Danny’s sister, named her first boy Danny in memory of her brother. He joined the Nahal Brigade and served as a deputy company commander. In 2002, he was killed by terrorists in Hebron.
We often forget what it took for this country to have survived all the wars it has fought throughout the years. The Teichler family and their friends are an example for us all. An example of patriotism, an example of togetherness and an example of people who remember their past, learn from it and look towards the future. Today, we honor Danny and the 2,689 soldiers who lost their lives during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.